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Old 23-11-2008, 04:25   #1
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Hookak Compressor Toxic Gases

During my first trip south to the Caribbean a few years ago I found that regular cleaning of the hull was necessary. I had Scuba gear so was able to do it but the tank was cumbersome and filling it wasn't always convenient. A friend lent me a 50' hose with a regulator I decided that was a must on any future trips. But after reading some posts on this forum I discovered hookahs and decided having one would be even better as I really don't do much SCUBA diving anymore.

A few posts pointed me to sites that described how to build my own hookah and save a lot of money rather than buying something like a Brownie. So I started looking for the parts necessary to build one.

The first thing I needed was an oil less compressor. I found one at our local supply store:

http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/product_detail.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=253437430 3523056&bmUID=1227438244697&PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=84 5524443303351&assortment=primary&fromSearch=true

This seemed to fit the bill. It even comes with a brad nailer. The price seemed reasonable $299 CDN. This weekend they went on salefor $99 so I couldn't pass up the opportunity and bought one.

Much to my chagrin, even horror, I discovered upon reading the instructions this dire warning:

RISK TO BREATHING
- This air compressor is not designed or intended for the supply of breathable quality air. Air produced by this unit may contain carbon monoxide or other toxic vapors. Do not inhale from the compressor or from a breathing device connected to it.

Does anyone know why such an oil less compressor with an electric motor would produce such gases.?

I'm thinking maybe because the manufacturer also produces compressors lubricated by oil and also others with gasoline engines, they simply put in this generic warning to CYA themselves against law suits.

I guess I could run it in a small room with a carbon monoxide detector to see if it sets it off. I could also add a air purifier on the output to clean the air. But still I'm a bit worried. What do you think?

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Old 23-11-2008, 05:33   #2
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I have seen warnings about gasoline driven compressors drawing in exhaust gasses (which would include carbon monoxide) through the compressor intake, I belive you have an electric version which it would not seem to have the problem. I don't know why compressing air would produce carbon monoxide but I am far from being an expert on the subject. I have also read cautions against using "air tool" type hoses and recomending a hose made or for breathing air.
I would check into the matter well before making "taking the dive".
Good luck
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Old 23-11-2008, 05:34   #3
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After the qoute,

"Much to my chagrin, even horror, I discovered upon reading the instructions this dire warning:

RISK TO BREATHING"

..would you ever be comfortable using it no matter what someone said here on this or any board?
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Old 23-11-2008, 07:15   #4
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DISCLAIMER: In no way does the following information recommend use of any equipement not built or certified for diving. Any type of air supply for diving or otherwise is life support equipment and using the wrong equipment or improper use of any equipment could resulte in injury or death.

First, just compressing air will not produce CO (carbon monoxide). If it did, one could not breath the air in any SCUBA tank which is indeed nothing but air that has been compressed (ignoring for the moment Nitrox and trimix blends). A SCUBA compressor does not have any special way of compressing air other than using an oil-less compressor. They do use filters to remove any dust, dirt and oil that might have entered the system. Filters I think would be recommended for any breathing gas.

CO in most real world situations comes from combustion, more so incomplete combustion. I assume there may be other sources of CO but none that I know of that would be encountered by most people.

I would speculate that the CO warning on your compressor originated from gas compressors made by the same company and the fear of lawsuits from improper use of the equipment. Companies that sell oxygen and helium that are commonly used in technical diving also put disclaimers on their gases specifically to cover themselves from lawsuits.

I would not consider using a commercial compressor for breathing gas without real careful study of the construction and operation of the that and all other parts of the system.

At the end of the day, how much could you save making your own vs the peace of mind of buying a tested unit from a reputable company. Call Brownie's Third Lung in Ft Lauderdale. Good gear and nice people. However, to be honest, I doubt that they use a custom designed and built compressor but quite likely adapt a commercial unit.

One last thing to consider, using a long hose and a single Al 80 tank sitting on deck you should get a couple of hours of breathing time at the depth you would be cleaning the hull. I would think most any where in the world you could get a tank filled once or twice a year to do a bottom job.
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Old 23-11-2008, 09:08   #5
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Paul Thank you for the heads up on the canadian tire compressor, I will get one today because of the sale I like the price Ole
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Old 23-11-2008, 16:18   #6
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One possible way to test the air coming from the compressor would be to stick a hose in a very clean bucket half full of distilled water and let air bubble through for a hour or so. Then check to see if oil is floating on the water. If not, taste test the water. If it tastes the same as the original distilled water you should be good to go. Also, during and after breathing the air from your compressor should you develop headaches discontinue use.

Good luck,

Paul

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Old 23-11-2008, 18:57   #7
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Actually, despite what skipmas says, there are ways to make CO without combustion. If you heat hydrocarbons in the presence of oxygen (i.e., air) you can partially decompose the organic compounds and make CO. That is one of the reasons that even filtered air from an oil lubricated compresser is not suitable for breathing.

Above is fact, the rest of this is guess...It is POSSIBLE that the manufactuing process for the "oil free" compressor leaves the parts coated with oil. This would not generate enough oil to damage equipment that needed "oil free" air, but still might generate enough CO to cause trouble.
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Old 23-11-2008, 19:02   #8
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Buy a tank, Have it filled, use a hookah, been doing it for years. No muss, no fuss, and it is as safe as you can be. A tank will cost less than putting any system together that you can depend on.
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Old 23-11-2008, 20:37   #9
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12V floating compressors for hookas are available at a reasonable price and are quite enough for cleaning the hull and checking a mooring. To get a tank filled you need the certification as a diver. I used to teach the theory of diving but never got round to getting my certification as a diver and don't really want to fork over the money to get the ticket.
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Old 23-11-2008, 20:37   #10
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Don't guess...

Call a company that manufactures compressors intended for hookahs and ask them why you cannot use an ordinary oiless compressor. I'm sure they will be happy to tell you why theirs is better.
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Old 23-11-2008, 20:39   #11
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How come when I Google "Hookah" or Hookak all I get is dope pipes...are you guys crazy..
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Old 23-11-2008, 21:06   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatKetch View Post
Actually, despite what skipmas says, there are ways to make CO without combustion. If you heat hydrocarbons in the presence of oxygen (i.e., air) you can partially decompose the organic compounds and make CO. That is one of the reasons that even filtered air from an oil lubricated compresser is not suitable for breathing.

Above is fact, the rest of this is guess...It is POSSIBLE that the manufactuing process for the "oil free" compressor leaves the parts coated with oil. This would not generate enough oil to damage equipment that needed "oil free" air, but still might generate enough CO to cause trouble.
Hi Great Ketch,

Did not say that you could not generate CO without combustion. My statement was "CO in most real world situations comes from combustion, more so incomplete combustion. I assume there may be other sources of CO but none that I know of that would be encountered by most people."

I assumed there were other possible sources of CO and you pointed one out. And it is quite likely that oil residue could be left from the manufacturing process since cutting oils and other petroleum based products are used to manufacture metal parts and it would be unlikely that a compressor made for power tools would be cleaned before assembly.

Bottom line as I and others recommend, stick with a system made for diving. Don't go cheap when the down side could be asphyxiation.
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Old 23-11-2008, 21:18   #13
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Helpful safety tip,

If you ever have to queston your gear...

DON'T USE IT!

If I decide to dive "outside the tables" I never have to question if my gear may be up to the task.

If I ever have to "pull the trigger' I never have to worry about the round leaving the barrel.

There are some things in life you don't scrimp on, your life is one of them.
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Old 23-11-2008, 23:16   #14
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Originally Posted by Chuck Baier View Post
Buy a tank, Have it filled, use a hookah, been doing it for years. No muss, no fuss, and it is as safe as you can be. A tank will cost less than putting any system together that you can depend on.
I agree.

If you want to make your own system you would have to have a very good water separator and 2-3 stage air filter. You would not want any rust developing in the volume tank over time. Units made for delivering breathing air, will have corrosion resistant tanks, and include the proper filters and water separator.
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Old 24-11-2008, 11:50   #15
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Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. I decided to do two tests to check it out:

1. As suggested by Viking Sailor, I ran the compressor into a bucket of water for a couple of hours. Result was no oil and water still tasted fine.

2. I took the carton the compressor came in (23"" X 16"" X 15") put the hose it along with a carbon monoxide alarm, sealed all the holes and ran it for over an hour. The alarm didn't go off.

The next test will be an actual dive using it which won't happen until next summer (maybe I'll try it out in the bathtub).

A couple of other disadvantages are:
- size/weight is around 40 lbs but if I leave my SCUBA tank behind that should make up for it. Not sure how heavy the Brownie is.
- the number of amps it draws: 12 amp compared to the Brownie which is either 6 or 8 amps depending on the doc you read. My inverter will probaby handle it if I run the engine or I could use the Honda 2000eu which is my next big purchase.

I ordered a 60' hose, the LP regulator and the Heat transfer hose from Brownie.
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